“How can we reduce our carbon footprint?” As Earth Day approaches, this critical question moves to the forefront—but to create an economy of net-zero carbon emissions, multiple industries and businesses need to do more to truly make permanent change.
Broadband providers, who are working to connect 100% of America while employing more than 255,000 people across the country, are taking steps to lead the charge. With a focus on sustainability, the broadband industry continues to make fundamental changes by innovating renewable technologies and creating eco-friendly networks.
Let’s explore some of the important behind-the-scenes work that’s driving sustainability in our digital world.
Minimizing physical and carbon footprints
Finding ways to reduce carbon footprints starts with thinking about how people move around and where they work. That’s why broadband providers are investing in a series of smart-fleet strategies and energy conservation measures, including using fuel-efficient, hybrid, or electric vehicles, and providing sustainable travel tools for employees.
Comcast, for example, has installed electric vehicle charging stations at its facilities and is leveraging fuel-efficiency software in its fleet. The company also recently announced that it will source 250 megawatts of solar electricity from Constellation that will power approximately 12 percent of its U.S. operations. Sky Broadband, meanwhile, has committed to transitioning its entire 5,700-vehicle fleet to electric by 2030; last year, the company sourced all of its electricity from 100% renewable sources.
Offices and facilities are going green, as well, with many broadband companies committed to making all future construction LEED-certified or equivalent. Combining interior and exterior LED lighting, solar panels, wind energy, and other renewable initiatives, buildings are being planned or retrofitted with energy conservation as a top priority.
Building an eco-friendly broadband network
With a wired infrastructure that spans thousands of miles from coast to coast and is continually undergoing maintenance, sustainability practices positively impact every community where broadband has a presence. This work begins on-site, with broadband providers reducing emissions at data centers, office buildings, production studios, and broadcast television transmitters.
In the field, companies are focused on recycling, such as utilizing partners for end-to-end solutions that reduce landfill waste. By recycling the coaxial cable used to lay broadband networks, landfill waste is reduced significantly. One solution entails breaking the wires into new, raw materials that can be reintroduced and resold. Another adapts the recycled plastic from coaxial waste for use in construction, asphalt, conduit, furniture, and other industries.
Cox Communications, for example, is partnering with the environmental-solutions platform Ubuntoo to recycle, upcycle, or repurpose coaxial waste as part of a commitment to achieve zero-waste-to-landfill by 2024.
Getting to net-zero
Achieving net-zero emissions takes a combination of many small initiatives that add up to a big deal. And without waiting for the overall economy, broadband providers, including Comcast, Cox Communications, and Charter, have committed to getting to net-zero carbon between 2030 and 2035 in two phases or “scopes.”
The first scope deals with direct emissions from sources owned or controlled by a company, and the second covers indirect emissions from purchased electricity, steam, heat, and cooling.
Although current climate news is mostly negative, we should not lose sight of the serious, quiet progress being made. So, the next time someone asks, “How can we reduce our carbon footprint?”, one possible answer could be: “Look to broadband.”
And here’s another place to look: while this article explores what broadband providers are doing behind the scenes to drive sustainability, cable programmers are also educating people onscreen with a series of consciousness-raising documentaries to celebrate this year’s Earth Day. To find out what to watch, click here.